Makin makes a date with Pilley after Sharpes opens show with Selby
By ALAN THATCHER
Joel Makin (Wales), Lucas Serme, Declan James and Charles Sharpes (both England) all won through to the main draw of the 2017 Canary Wharf Classic after a day of drama in the qualifying finals at Wimbledon.
James and Serme were both rewarded with a rest day before their appointments on Tuesday, with James facing Spain’s Borja Golan and Serme meeting No.2 seed Marwan Elshorbagy, runner-up in last week’s Windy City Open in Chicago.
MAKIN MAKES IT THROUGH PAST COLEMAN
Joel Makin powered his way through to the main draw of the Canary Wharf Classic with a solid performance against Ben Coleman.
Coleman has returned from an injury and played with an ankle support on his right leg. But his movement appeared to be smooth and efficient during some phenomenally long opening rallies.
However, three tins gifted Makin a 7-3 lead. Each one played precision drops from the back of the court and each was awarded a stroke before Makin clinched the game with a backhand drive that was glued to the left-hand wall, a shot that summed up his mastery of that particular zone of the court.
Makin led 6-4 in the second but by now the match had taken on a physical tone as both players responded aggressively to a succession of “No let” decisions.
Coleman drew level at 8-8 with a superb backhand volley drop and took the lead when Makin put drop into the tin.
Coleman put a boast into the tin to make it 9-9 but then nailed a crosscourt backhand volley nick. A forehand straight drive gave Coleman the game and he roared with animal passion as he left the court.
Before the start of the third game the referee announced there would be no soft lets in the front left corner but most of the traffic issues were around the mid-court line.
At 5-5 Makin was awarded a stroke and Coleman received a conduct warning for alleged dissent. Coleman responded with a mistake on the subsequent service return. A stroke to Makin was followed by two “no let” calls to Coleman.
At game ball down, Coleman responded with an inside-out Essex misuki into the front right nick but then put a drop shot into the tin to give Makin the game.
Makin dominated most of the fourth game as the side walls took a pounding from bodies being propelled into the concrete with an alarming regularity.
There were some lengthy rallies and some intelligent squash but too many passages of play ended with scrappy scuffling and pushing around the middle of the court.
Makin clinched the fourth game 11-6 after 69 minutes of combat to become the first name into the draw with the big guns.
BLOOD ON THE COURT
Declan James made it through to the main draw after a huge battle with experienced Egyptian Mohamed Reda.
Leading two games to one, James started the fourth game in fiery form, claiming three quick points as he clearly set out to finish the match as quickly as possible.
However, he had scraped his knuckle earlier in the match and, with a few drops of blood on the court, he was asked to leave to have it treated.
After a ten-minute delay, and a nice breather for Reda, play finally resumed. James was soon into his stride again and he seemed set to close out the match as he led 8-4, but Reda had other ideas.
He grabbed three quick points after a trio of tins from his opponent but then Reda received the double setback of a “no let” and a conduct warning for shouting. That put James at 9-7 but the tall Englishman conceded a stroke. Reda then stumbled as he chased a backhand and put the ball into the tin to put James on match ball at 10-8.
That’s when the fun began. Reda struck a brilliant crosscourt volley nick and a tight forehand drop made it 10-10. A backhand drop gave Reda game ball but the Egyptian slashed at first a backhand and then a forehand, sending both into the tin, to put James back on match ball at 12-11.
Astonishingly, a mis-hit backhand somehow squirted on to the front wall to put Reda level at 12-12. James was perfectly set up at the front of the court for a crosscourt slam kill into the left nick but his shot glanced off the tin: 13-12 to Reda.
Reda screamed in dismay after a “no let” made it 13-13, then he conceded a stroke after a loose ball in the front right corner.
To cap an entertaining finale, James buried a forehand kill into the front right nick from the back of the court to take it 15-13.
SERME AND LAKE SERVE UP A TREAT
Lucas Serme joined reigning champion Mathieu Castagnet to double the French presence in the main draw after a hugely entertaining five-game marathon against Nathan Lake.
Lake led 4-2 in the first game but Serme took control to win nine points in a row. He could not maintain the momentum in the second as Lake built a solid 5-3 lead, advanced to 9-4, and weathered a late flurry of points from Serme to take it 11-7.
Serme produced a sublime spell of squash to win the third 11-3 but Lake responded strongly again to win a tight fourth game.
Those efforts took their toll as Serme built a 7-2 lead in the fifth and reduced a tiring Lake to some desperate retrieving, accompanied by much grunting and grimacing.
He refused to give up and doggedly chased the ball into all four corners, claiming another five points with some outstanding winners, before the stylish Serme triumphed 11-7 after 74 minutes of high quality squash.
It was a great advertisement for the game.
FALLOWS FALLS AS SHARPES HEEDS WARNING
The final match, between London rivals Charles Sharpes and Richie Fallows, was always going to be a battle of raw emotion. It ended up as the longest battle of the day, with Sharpes winning the fifth after being embroiled in some unsavoury interaction with the match officials.
Richie is to be commended for his conscious decision to let his racket do the talking, and his short game, when it works, is showing signs of significant improvement.
However, his error count was way too high in this match and in the vital third game he hit the tin seven times and gave away a penalty stroke, which is pretty much giving the whole game away to your opponent.
In a fractious encounter, Sharpes won the opening game 11-9 but, at the end of the second, he lost the deciding point on a “no let” decision and received a penalty stroke at the beginning of the third. When Fallows then moved 3-2 ahead, Sharpes received a conduct warning for dissent.
He tightened up as Fallows imploded, but the fourth game was a total horror show. It ended with Sharpes receiving a conduct stroke for racket abuse and he responded by smacking the ball into the ceiling, an act that went unpunished.
Before the fifth game, Sharpes was warned that he faced the full force of the disciplinary powers available to the referee if he continued to misbehave.
This helped him to calm down and may well have been the decisive factor. Fallows was unable to repeat the winners that won him the fourth and a flurry of tins helped his opponent ease to match ball, which he converted with a simple forehand drop.
PSA M70 CANARY WHARF CLASSIC
Qualifying Finals, Wimbledon Racquets and Fitness Club, London, England:
Joel Makin (Wales) beat (6) Ben Coleman (England) 11-6, 9-11, 11-6, 11-6 (69 mins)
(3) Declan James (England) beat (5) Mohamed Reda (Egypt) 11-9, 9-11, 11-8, 15-13 (74 mins)
(4) Lucas Serme (France) beat Nathan Lake (England) 11-4, 7-11, 11-3, 9-11, 11-7 (74 mins)
(7) Charles Sharpes (England) beat Richie Fallows (England) 11-9, 7-11, 11-6, 6-11, 11-5 (78 mins)
FIRST ROUND DRAW (Top half Monday; bottom half Tuesday):
East Wintergarden, Canary Wharf, London.
 Nick Matthew (ENG) v Ryan Cuskelly (AUS)
 Cameron Pilley (AUS) v (Q) Joel Makin (WAL)
 Daryl Selby (ENG) v (Q) Charles Sharpes (ENG)
 Simon Rösner (GER) v Paul Coll (NZL)
 Fares Dessouky (EGY) v Tom Richards (ENG)
 Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) v [WC] Lyell Fuller (ENG)
 Borja Golan (ESP) v Declan James (ENG)
 Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) v Lucas Serme (FRA)
Pictures by PATRICK LAUSON